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11 Arizonans accused of $1.3M Social Security fraud

The defendants allegedly stole benefits that belonged to deceased individuals.

PHOENIX — Federal prosecutors have filed criminal charges against 11 Arizonans accused of stealing Social Security benefits from deceased individuals. 

The U.S. Attorney's Office of Arizona announced Monday it had filed charges against a group of defendants who are accused of collectively stealing up to $1.3 million in Social Security payments. 

In some of the cases, benefits continued to be paid for years after the beneficiary died. Often the benefits were collected by relatives of the deceased beneficiary, prosecutors said.

The 11 Arizonans charged in federal court with various felony and misdemeanor crimes include:

  • Patricia Munson
  • Douglas Pasley
  • Tamara Head
  • Marva Martin
  • Dennis Diaz
  • Kristy Schlueter
  • Freda Hunt
  • Karen Hardesty
  • Joseph McCullough
  • Carol Harmon
  • Diana Fast

A conviction for theft of public funds carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both.

During the investigation into Social Security fraud, federal investigators managed to recoup nearly $1.2 million in nine other cases that were resolved without filing criminal charges.

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